A Million Dollar Decision

One of the best managers I ever worked for taught me that the most important thing I will ever do in my working life is to hire the right person for the right job.  Hiring someone at $50,000 who works for you for 15 years can easily be a million dollar decision when considering fringe benefits.  Do it right.

If you hire correctly, good things happen.  Work gets done and gets done well.  The right organizational culture is built and maintained.  Future potential is created.

Poor hiring decisions, on the other hand, can make life miserable for both the hiring manager and the employee.  Work may not get done well and customers get upset and leave.  Expensive mistakes are inevitably made.  Severing a poor performer hits the bottom line with paying someone not to work and for the costs to find and train a replacement.  Employee careers can be derailed.  Unions organize based on bad hiring decisions.

In my experience, hiring managers often overestimate their skill in this area.  How often have you told yourself that “your gut” is telling you “this the right hire”?  Hypothetical rather than behavioural questions are asked in the interviews.  Experience is assessed in terms of quantity, such as number of years, rather than quality, such as level of responsibility and results achieved.  In the haste to hire, proper reference and background checks are waived.  First impressions are given too much weight.  Credentials and competencies are put ahead of a job candidate’s character and values.

To improve your chances of hiring the character and values you want in your organization, here are some areas to consider.

What is the talk to listen ratio of the candidate?  If it skews strongly to talking, I would question the candidate’s listening skills and sense of self-importance.

How does this person treat people they do not know?  Good people believe we are all equal.  How did the candidate treat the receptionist or others in the office?  Circle back and find out.

My favourite is this one: Is the person humble?  Some of the best and smartest people I have worked with over my career have shared this quality.  Are your candidate’s thoughts and actions consistent with this quality?

How does the candidate deal with failure?  What are they reading?  Would you be able to handle a long car ride with this person?

Explore these areas as an interviewer and you will move toward a fact based decision rather than a nebulous “gut feeling”.

Remember, recruitment and selection of employees should not be easy.  But if done correctly, it can be personally rewarding and of great benefit to your organization.

Are you spending your million dollars wisely?

Scott Forbes is the Sr. HR Advior with BBCi Performance Management Group. We are Human Resources advisors to small and medium sized businesses in Ontario.

You can email him at [email protected]

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